Marketing Design Dispatch

Are you to blame? (let’s be honest with ourselves)

Published over 1 year ago • 3 min read

Hey Reader,

If you’re in a situation right now where you’re not entirely happy with your work or your career growth, I’ve got a tough question for you today…

How are you complicit in creating the conditions you say you don’t want?

This question was a journaling prompt shared with the ConvertKit team by way of the Reboot coaching company in an exercise on one of our team retreats several years ago, and it’s stuck with me ever since.

As I’ve been getting back to working on my marketing design book this week, I’ve been thinking about my reader (you, essentially!) and what might be holding them back from levelling up in their career and being the kickass, impactful marketing designer they aim to be. I realised that one of the main things standing in their way might honestly be… themselves.

Now before you say:

“Whatever, Charli! You don’t know me! I’m doing everything I can. It’s not my fault that I’m not brought on early enough to projects/that the fun, creative work is outsourced to an agency/that I’m too busy drowning in production work to stop and look at metrics.”

Let me tell you that you’re right. I don’t know the intricacies of your specific situation, and there probably are a lot of things outside of your control that are holding you back. But I’m willing to bet that if you’re honest with yourself; there’s a few things you could be doing differently too.

Whenever I ask myself this question of complicity as I work through a challenge, I notice that my first reaction is always a little defensive.

As I identify ways that I might be complicit in a situation I don’t like, I leap to make excuses for why I’m behaving that way (I’d be curious to know if the same thing happens for you as you ask this question of yourself!). Then (eventually) I accept that ultimately the why doesn’t really matter. What matters is that now that I’ve noticed what I’m doing, I can work on changing it so that I can get out of my own damn way.

When it comes to the challenges that stand between us and our career goals, there are many things outside of our control that can prevent us from getting there on the timeline we desire. By taking ownership of our own behaviour, we make sure that we’re taking control of what we can (and that there might be more opportunities for that than we first thought).

I’d been holding myself back from addressing this in my book, because I didn’t want my reader to feel like I was speaking down to them or telling them that they’re doing things wrong. I trust that every designer who reads my book has gotten to where they are in their career for a reason! And I’d never dare to assume I know what the right or wrong process is for them to do their work in their specific niche.

But as my book is aimed at helping marketing designers to level up in their careers by unlocking a higher level of efficiency and impact in their work, I’ve realised that this ability to take ownership of their own behaviour and be willing to try things to change a situation that isn’t leading to their best work is fundamental to their success. So I’ve got to include it!

What’s standing in the way of you doing the work you want to be doing, at the level you want to be doing it? And if you ask yourself:

“How am I complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?

What comes up for you?

Seriously, I hope you actually reply and tell me about this. Not only do I love receiving responses to these newsletters (every single one of them hits my inbox!), but it would be immensely helpful as book research for me to hear about the challenges you’re facing.

There’s a lot to being a brand designer that isn’t… designing

If there’s one key takeaway you’ll get from my interview with Austin Couillard from Auth0, it’s that! This episode of Inside Marketing Design is definitely one to listen to for advice on building relationships internally and art directing work that an agency is doing. And, of course, we talk about hands on design work too!

video preview

Portfolio inspiration: Grace Walker

That’s not a new minimal Twitter interface you’re seeing in the screenshot above; it’s Grace’s portfolio site! She’s an independent designer who creates epic Webflow sites for freelance clients and because she shares so many great details about her work on Twitter, she decided to make these tweets the basis of her portfolio.

She really leaned in to the idea of a Twitter feed for this site and it looks especially great on mobile. It’s such a smart, simple solution for keeping a portfolio site up to date with freelance projects (it feels easier to write a Twitter thread to share your work than it does to write a whole long-form case study, right?)

Check out Grace's website here (and show her some love for it on Twitter @graceongrid!)

I tell you what, after a tumultuous month it felt so good to finally rejoin my Tuesday book writing accountability call again this week. I hope you’ll enjoy hearing more book updates in future issues.

Hope you have a good week!

Enjoy this issue? Click the heart to let me know!


Marketing Design Dispatch

by Charli Marie

Join 17,000+ creatives receiving insider insights about brand and marketing design – featuring landing page and rebrand breakdowns, useful career content, and a behind-the-scenes look at running a Brand Studio team in tech.

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